Fidelity is a hotly contested issue in North American culture. There is a lot of emphasis placed on loyalty and sexual fidelity in relationships. One of the primary reasons for this is that sex and whom you are kissing is one of the primary indicators of whom you are in a relationship with. If you are just running around kissing and sticking it to whomever you want, then how is a girl supposed to know that she is the one and only in your heart?
Yet, while most people consider cheating to have a direct correlation to the swapping of body fluids, there are many people out there who regard emotional cheating to be much more damaging than the physical act of sex. But how does one define emotional cheating, and even more difficult, how does one prove it?
Your run-of-the-mill, old-fashioned cheating is relatively easy to define. This, of course, should be discussed between the two of you so that you are both aware of each other’s limits and you don’t get caught on a technicality (or hurt on one). It is always better to know if your partner only considers full penetration cheating. Regardless, if you see the love of your life smooching with someone else, you can say, “Hey, you were kissing that person. I saw you and it’s not cool!”
Emotional cheating is different, however. It is both difficult to articulate and difficult to prove. This is because the proof of emotional cheating is often simply a feeling. It is a feeling that there is a growing distance between you and your partner. It is a feeling that you are not connecting to them how you used to or how you want to. It’s a feeling as though you are being cheated out of time or thoughts or feelings that they are having about their lives because they are confiding them in someone else.
It is almost as difficult to tell if you are the person doing the emotional cheating. Again, it involves distance between you and your significant other. Do you find that you are seeking the counsel of someone other than your partner for things that you would normally discuss with them? Are you making excuses to spend time with someone other than your partner or the point where you see the other person, and perhaps depend on the other person, more than you do your own partner?
While unchecked emotional cheating could eventually lead to physical infidelity, it won’t necessarily. It could just be a cry for help in your relationship. What the problem is is a quandary that you will have to solve for yourself. Most likely, the problem does not lie with one or the other of you entirely. The issue might be that you or your partner is simply insecure and needs the attention of a member of the opposite sex who is not committed to you in order to make you feel desirable. If this is the case, you or your partner are going to have to work through those feelings and deal with them before you need even more attention to quell the fragile ego.
Another thing you may want to look at is what you or your partner is finding in this other person that is lacking in your own relationship. Why are you seeking attention and emotional intimacy elsewhere than in your partner? If you think it is insecurity, is there something you are doing to make your partner feel insecure or vice versa? Is one partner overly critical, judgmental or disinterested in the other’s feelings?
Because emotional cheating is so difficult to prove, it is easy to unfairly accuse your partner of it, or be accused of it, simply because of jealousy. The point of this article is not to say that your partner is not allowed to have a friend of the opposite sex (or the same sex) without being accused of emotional cheating. There is a difference between friendship and cheating behavior. This is a line that every person and couple has to define for himself or herself.
There are situations when you might be feeling left out which do not automatically translate into emotional cheating behaviours. For instance, when your lover has a friendship that started before you came into the picture, it is going to be difficult to convince your significant other that this person is a threat to your relationship–unless of course you think that the relationship should be between the two of them, not the two of you.
Or perhaps what drew your partner to some other person is a keen mutual interest that you don’t share. This is a tough one because you cannot tell your partner that they are not allowed to enjoy a hobby or experience that they are interested in simply because it makes you feel excluded. If you feel that you are missing out on an integral part of your partner’s life and someone else is moving in and getting a really cool part of your partner, then make an effort. You don’t have to do what they do, but you can show an interest, show support and show enthusiasm for what they do.
While many men cringe at the thought of another man touching the woman they love, they may not be as alert to an emotional cheating situation. You might feel grateful that your significant other is dumping her hours of sob stories onto someone else. And if you are comfortable with that arrangement, then maybe there’s no need to fix what ain’t broken.
Women, on the other hand, can be much more in tune with the emotional intimacy, or lack thereof, in a relationship. While it has been noted that men find intimacy in sexual ways, many women find intimacy through their emotions, which is why they want to talk so damn much. For this reason, women might be tempted to find that emotional connection elsewhere if she is not getting it at home. In my experience, however, men and women are equally guilty of flirting with emotional infidelity.
On the end, you have to listen to your gut and be honest with yourself and your partner. If you find yourself in an emotionally compromising position, ask yourself, how would you feel if your partner where having the same interaction with someone other than you at that moment. If the answer makes you squirm, then maybe you should look at your intentions and think about how important your relationship is to you.